1991 Audi V8 quattro 5-Speed

Back to big Audis! The early 1990s were, as I’ve described in previous posts, a period of change for the Ingolstadt firm as they closed down production on the Type 44 to introduce its new replacement, the C4. That led to a dizzying assortment of models from the one chassis. There was the aforementioned 100 and 100 quattro. You could move up to two turbocharged models, too – the 200 Turbo gave you 165 horsepower through the front wheels, and the new-and-only-for-91 in the U.S. was 200 20V quattro. Europe and the rest of the world got even more options; production lasted right up through 2006 in parts of China, where they even made a crazy long-wheel base 4-door convertible version of the Hongqi.

But the top of the heap for the U.S. market was a derivative of the Type 44, the D11 chassis. Of course, that was Audi’s foray into the top-tier luxury market with its new all-aluminum 32 valve double-overhead cam V8. Body revisions to the front and rear along with flared fenders made the V8 quattro seem like a completely different car to the slab-sided 100. V8s had, and have, serious presence. Big news, too, was that for the first time Audi was able to match its all-wheel drive quattro setup with a new 4-speed automatic transmission.

For die-hard Audi faithful, though, for a short while you could still opt to row-your-own with the 240 horsepower 3.6 liter V8 singing to your right foot. These manual V8 quattros are legendary because of their rarity and that they are the only car Audi brought to market with twin Torsen differentials. The combination of a more rearward weight bias, big and instant torque from the V8 and those clever diffs made for one of the best driving experiences in a classic big sedan from Audi, and they’re exceedingly rare to find:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1990 Audi Coupe Quattro

Nomenclature has been something Audi fans have struggled with, but to be fair the naming scheme from Ingolstadt hasn’t always been particularly straightforward. For example, though ubiquitous as the Coupe GT, there was actually a trim and performance difference between B2 front-drive Coupes and Coupe GTs. Similarly, though U.S. fans often fair to recognize it, the B3 Coupe Quattro was actually the second generation with the name; Europeans enjoyed the option of having a non-turbocharged, non-flared version of the B2 platform which few but the most dedicated U.S. Audi Coupe fans are aware of. Then there’s the name – properly, a capitalized Quattro refers to the aforementioned legend – the model that launched the branding of Audi’s all-wheel drive system. Every subsequent model that followed properly has a lowercase “q” if it sported the optional all-wheel drive. That even goes for models that were only offered in all-wheel drive, such as the V8 quattro. That is, except for the Coupe Quattro, which Audi insisted should also be capitalized. So confusing is the naming scheme that fans have taken to using “Ur” to refer to the Quattro (though proper capitalization would take care of the problem) for not only the original model, but the C4 S4/S6 and I’ve even been seeing it used for TTs, A4s and a few others. It also means that every time one comes up for sale and someone slaps ‘Ur’ in front of it, someone else has to ask what ‘Ur’ means.

But the B3 and B4 Coupe wasn’t just offered in all-wheel drive; there were a long line of optional engines in the Coupe in both two and four wheel drive. However it only came to the U.S. in one configuration – the under-appreciated 7A inline-5 20V motor pushing all four wheels. The B3 ran the second generation of quattro, with the center differential controlled by a Torsen unit and the rear open with an optional, speed limited locking unit. It upped the safety and electronic options to respond to market demands. They were heavy with electronic features including power seats, and passengers enjoyed the confusing safety net known as PROCON-10 – essentially, a series of cables which pre-tensioned seatbelts in the event of a crash. Though the production run of U.S. Coupes was brief at only 2 years and roughly 1700 units, there were many changes over that time. The motor changed ISV valves and computers as well as swapping from a tubular header to a cast iron unit. Shortly into production, airbags became standard on both the Coupe and sedan models. A rear swaybar was added, along with changes to the hydraulic system. All of these went relatively unseen to consumers, making the only notable change the addition of a glass sunroof to 1991 models. For the most part, these cars came fully loaded with the only options being Pearlescent White Metallic paint and power heated seats, unlike the sedan which despite being fewer in number has much more variety in options.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi Coupe Quattro on eBay

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Yin and Yang Double Take: 1995 Audi S6

After looking at a very shiny, and very expensive, S6 last month, two more very nice examples have popped up for sale with a few less questions – and a lot less in terms of asking price. What attracted them both to me, besides the more approachable asks, was that they represent opposites in many ways. We have a Pearlescent White Metallic with Black leather 95.5 equipped with Speedline Avus wheels, and a Black over Ecru 95 wearing Fuchs. It’s interesting to see them both appear at the same time – so which represents the better deal? Let’s start with the 95.5 first:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 on eBay

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

If Alfa Romeo built a German car, it would be the V8 quattro.

First, it was hugely complicated. There were computers controlling everything, and in the great manner in which Audi and Volkswagen developed their late 1980s computer technology, it worked great until it didnt, at which point the car would be thoroughly incapacitated. One day driving my ’93 4.2, during a rain storm the convenience controller failed, opening all of the windows AND the sunroof and not allowing me to close them. Needless to say, it was less than convenient. Second, it hemorrhaged fluids. Were not talking a little bit, either full on Oh, Im sorry, did you want me to keep that $20 a liter worth of hydraulic fluid IN me? hemorrhaging. Oil, coolant, transmission fluidyou name it, if you could put it in, it would instantly come out. It tried to kill me, too. Not just once, either. See, that fluid loss resulted in a buildup of oil gunk. Where does the oil gunk build up, you ask? On the throttle. This normally isnt a problem, unless once in a while you opened the throttle. Then, it became a problem, as the throttle wouldnt close. Again, not a problem so much on a 4000 quattro with all 115 stampeding horses, but in the 93 V8 quattro, there were 2.5 times that amount 276 horsepower with even more torque launching my 3,900 pound missile down Route 195. Leaks presented themselves in other odd ways, too like, for example, when I got a self-imposed flat tire at a winter driving school. Out came the tools to jack the car up, no problem. However, when I went to retrieve the spare, a sad sight awaited me the trunk had leaked into the spare tire well apparently, resulting in the space saver spare being thoroughly embedded in 10 inches of tire well-shaped ice cube. In story generation alone, the V8 quattro was by far the Professor Emeritus of my car history. Thirdly, no one knew what it was when you went to get a part. Allow me to present a theoretical trip to the parts counter even at an Audi dealer

Parts Guy: Hi, what kind of car?
Me: Audi
PG: What model?
Me: V8
PG: No, not what engine, what model.
Me: V8
PG: They made a model named V8?
Me: Yes
PG: (turns to other Parts Guy) You ever hear of an Audi V8?
OPG: He probably means A8.
Me: No, the A8 is the model that replaced the V8.
(both look confused)
PG: Okay, what year?
Me: 1993
PG: Audi made cars in 1993?
Me: Yes. Not many.
PG: Okay, the computer tells me that your car doesnt exist.
Me: Its outside. Would you like to see it?
PG: No, maybe I can cross reference the part. What do you need?
Me: The transmission control unit.
PG:
PG: .. (turns to other PG and looks confused)
Other PG: Ah, you should probably just go to the dealer.

Fourth, when eventually you convinced someone who supplied parts for your non-existent car that it really was real, inevitably the part would be expensive. Really, really expensive. And, on backorder, or no longer available. It made repairs lengthy and always have at least one comma in the price estimate. That estimate was almost always below what it actually cost to get it running again, and when it did run again, inevitably there would be something still wrong that would need to be fixed on the next trip to the mechanic. And that was 15 years ago!

Yet, more than any car Ive previously owned, its the one Id want back.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on eBay

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1988 Audi 80 quattro

Rounding out my trio of grunge-era Audis, let’s take a look at the entry level quattro-equipped model – the 80. While the move from the B2 to B3 chassis brought many changes to the small Audi lineup, it was also very much a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. Some of the features of the 4000 were gone; you could no longer opt to lock the center differential, for example, since the manual locker had been replaced by a more sophisticated Torsen unit. You could still opt to engage a rear differential lock, but electronics overrode that at 15 m.p.h.. That change was indicative of movement in the marketplace and where the B3 was aimed – slightly more upscale from the B2. Interior quality was greater, safety took priority, and production was broken into two categories as it had been in Europe for the B2. Selecting the top-range 90 quattro got you nicer BBS wheels, color matched bumpers and mirrors, a sportier raised spoiler, a better leather interior and wood trim. The downscale 80 would channel more of the outgoing 4000, with a velour and plastic-heavy interior. They even opted to keep the same Ronal R8 wheels as the old model early on, and the subtle rear spoiler was a near copy of the B2.

The more basic 80 was closer in performance to the 4000, too – the luxury and safety items of the B3 meant more weight, and the 90 tipped the scales at nearly 3,000 lbs. Mechanically identical, the 80 quattro was about a hundred pounds lighter and anyone who has driven 80s normally aspirated Audis knows that 100 lbs. makes a difference in performance. Motivation for both was the same NG-code inline-5 that was seen in the last Coupe GT Special Build models, meaning 130 horsepower and 140 lb.ft of torque – smoothly adequate, but certainly never overwhelming. The 80 quattro enjoyed only a short run in the U.S., being available in the 1988-1990 model years and then re-introduced with some 90 quattro upgrades for the ’92 model year as a hold-over until the V6 B4 was ready for production. The de-contented 80 was a fair bit cheaper than its quite expensive brethren; while a Coupe Quattro would set you back over $30,000 with some options, select a basic 80 quattro and you could sneak out of the dealership for $23,000 – barely more than the ’87 Coupe GT retailed for. Today I’ve come across what must be one of the best 80 quattros remaining out there:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Audi 80 quattro on eBay

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1995.5 Audi S6 Avant

It’s often difficult for a second act to follow a legend, and that’s just what the C4 S4 had to do when it launched for U.S. customers in 1992. The Type 44 was already a fan favorite before the 20V version appeared here briefly for the 1991 model year, with wider flared track, bigger brakes, and more power. To answer fans, Audi introduced an even more potent version with the S4; even bigger wheels, lower suspension, and a few more horses were encased in a thoroughly modern shape, yet one that was easily recognizable to fans of the brand. With a reputation for smooth power delivery and still the market cornered on all-wheel drive performance luxury vehicles, Audi’s new S4 sold out almost immediately in a period when the European makes had difficulty moving their expensive wares.

But the Type 44 still held one advantage over its replacement; as we saw recently, an optional fifth door. While the Avant version of the new 100 was available immediately, there was no range-topping S4 wagon brought here. That was finally remedied with the relaunch of the now renamed S6 Avant for 1995. With smoothed out bumpers, revised passenger mirror, rolling changes such as new Speedline Avus 6-spoke wheels replaced the Fuchs that the S4 wore, and headrests became closed. There were more changes with the “95.5” model; the infrared remote locking became radio frequency and the B-pillar receiver disappeared; so, too, did the option to lock the rear differential yourself, as Audi opted to work in an electronic differential lock utilizing the ABS speed sensors rather than a physically locking rear end.

These were really only minor changes to the recipe, which at its roots remained a fan fantasy. The traditional inline-5 that had hung out of the nose of the high-end Audis was still there, with its dual-cam head augmented by electronic fuel injection and electronic boost control. The turbo spun up quickly and had an overboost function, giving drivers 227 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque to be mastered solely by a manual transmission with Torsen center differential. Form-fitting electric sport seats kept front passengers firmly planted in place through the prodigious grip generated by the meaty 225 section tires. Combined with the prodigious space the Avant offered families and the ability of these cars to eat up highway miles with aplomb regardless of weather, not to mention the incredible tuning potential of the AAN 20V turbo, they’ve become highly sought steeds with a very limited pool of around 300 originally imported:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995.5 Audi S6 Avant on San Francisco Craigslist

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1990 Audi V8 quattro

From the dated underpinnings of the Type 44 chassis, Audi emerged in 1988 with an all-new 4-cam aluminum engine that could be mated to an automatic transmission. Now, to most enthusiasts that probably sounds like a bad idea. But when it came to selling car – especially expensive luxury cars – the overwhelming majority of buyers wanted the car to do most of the heavy lifting. Audi’s response was the next generation of quattro drivetrains with a series of clutches in the center differential that helped to transfer power and allowed the car to be mated to an automatic transmission. That transmission – the ZF 4HP24A – was a derivative of the 4HP24, the same automatic found in the V12-equipped BMW 750 and 850s. Like the Mercedes-Benz, Audi employed Bosch ABS and a locking rear differential. But unlike other Audis with their manual- or electronic-locking rear differential, the V8 quattro used a Torsen rear differential with helical gears which would automatically split torque in up to a 3:1 ratio to the wheel with grip. Coupled with a more rearward weight bias with the shorter V8 and the gutsy torque on offer throughout the rev range, though much of the car was borrowed from the rest of the lineup it took on an entirely different character. That was matched with new, updated bodywork outside and a wider stance with flared arches. The effect? Magical. And, complicated.

But the V8 quattro wasn’t only about its unique new form of all-wheel drive. The moniker obviously indicated there had been a change in motivation, too, and indeed the V8 launched a new all-aluminum 4 cam, 32 valve V8 displacing 3.6 liters dubbed the PT. Rated at 240 horsepower and 254 lb.ft of torque, it was the most powerful Audi for sale in the late 1980s and brought the brand to a luxury level it had previously not competed at. In the U.S., these mega-Audis were met with mixed success. The 1990 launch of the V8 resulted in reasonably good sales; Audi sold 2,823 between late 1989 and the end of 1990 which represented over 10% of their yearly sales. Values in the used market plummeted after timing belt fiascos on early cars and the general recession of the early 90s, along with the ’92 launch of the turbocharged, manual and later Avant-equipped S4/S6 twins. Today, we it’s a bit of a treat to see a clean V8 quattro, and this looks to be one of the better examples out there for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi V8 quattro on Bend Oregon Craigslist

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1995 Audi S6

Of course, the ultimate evolution of the Type 43 blueprint emerged in 1995 with the launch of S6. If you want to be technical, it wasn’t really – there was a far more potent and special version in the S6 Plus to come for Europeans, and truth told there weren’t many changes from the prior S4 to the re-badged S6. Despite this, for U.S. fans of the traditional Audi inline-5 mated to a manual transmission and all four wheels driven, it didn’t get much better than the S6 you see here.

The last S6 we looked at seemed to be a pristine example, and bidding was very aggressive – in fact, problematically so. Several times it was bid to $12,200 and though it was a no reserve auction, each time it failed to trade hands. I ran across the listing again on Craigslist, where it was listed for $19,900. Ouch! Worse, there were claims from a reported ex-owner that the car was grossly misrepresented. Today we have what promises to be a better one to pick up, then – and it won’t cost you nearly as much:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 on Syracuse Craigslist

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Type 89 20Vs: 1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V and Coupe Quattro

Update 10/24/18: After being listed as sold, the Coupe Quattro was resold in a no reserve auction format at $3,500.

Update 9/26/18: The 90 quattro 20V sold for $2,600, and the Coupe Quattro sold for $4,249

I’ve owned Audis of all sorts, but the B3/4 chassis has so far eluded me. It’s not that I haven’t come close, though. My first experience with a B3 was at one of my first jobs. One of the delivery men had bought a brand-new 1990 Coupe Quattro. It was a mess, though it was only 6 years old at that point. I offered to clean it for him, and thus was born my first drive with the 7A. It started up and sounded just like my 4000CS quattro, and if I’m brutally honest, below 3,000 rpms you couldn’t tell any difference between the two in performance. But keep your foot buried in the loud pedal and the DOHC 2.3 inline-5 began to sing, eagerly heading for the redline at every prodding. The fit, finish and luxury of the Coupe made me envious of the time; though my Audi was only four years older, it might as well have been five times that. Such was the jump from the B2 to the B3. Soon after I met another Audi fanatic who had a string of Lago Coupes I would often drool over.

My later encounter came much closer to actual ownership. I met a friend in England during grad school and we quickly bonded over Audis. It turned out that back in his hometown in Canada, he, too, had an Audi waiting. It was a graphite 1990 90 quattro 20V. And, after some time, he asked me if I wanted to buy it. When I got home I pursued this prospect since I had sold the 4000 to leave for England. Long story short, when the photos arrived of the car, it was quite a bit more crusty underneath than I was hoping. His price was reasonable, but then for about the same ask a 1993 4.2 V8 quattro came up for sale locally, and the rest was history for me.

The B3 20V has never left my thoughts, though I haven’t gotten any closer to owning one. The Coupe and its 90 quattro 20V brother each have their devoted fanbase, yet they’re remarkably different cars both in how they look and who wants to own each. Both are fairly rare, with around 1,500 Coupes and roughly 1,000 90s imported with the 7A originally – and, in all honesty, probably only a fraction of that number remain today. But surprisingly I found two examples of Pearlescent White Metallic to compare:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Audi 90 quattro 20V on eBay

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Ersatz Avant: 2008 Audi RS4 Avant

After B5 production ended, Audi continued to widen the pool for its small chassis. Joining the lineup for the B6 model was a new Cabriolet, and of course returning were the dynamic duo of the sedan and Avant models. Power now came from the BBK 4.2 liter 4 cam 40 valve all-aluminum V8. Fitting the motor into the small chassis necessitated dropping the belt drive in favor of the infamous rear-mounted chain. Still, though, with 340 horsepower on tap and weighed the same as the outgoing 250 horsepower V6 twin-turbo, with instant torque, the S4 seemed top of the heap. But it was still playing catch-up with the outgoing E46 M3, so when it came to the B7, Audi offered even more spunk, bringing for the first time after three generations their first top-tier offering in the small chassis – the RS4.

At the heart of the new addition to the fleet was, of course, a special motor. Dubbed the BNS, Audi ditched the 5 valve heads but added FSI direct fuel injection. In reality, little was shared or untouched between the seemingly similar 4.2 V8s in the S4 and RS4, but the result of the fiddling was impressive. The engineers at Ingolstadt managed to crank a 420 horsepower screamer out, and coupled with the revised, more rear-biased quattro drivetrain in the B7, a completely different beast was born.

But while there was celebration that another RS model joined the lineup for the United States, there were some fan groans that once again Audi had skipped its party piece – the RS Avant. But that not-insignificant setback didn’t stop some enterprising individuals from making their own:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi RS4 Avant on Bring a Trailer

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